Writing A Winning Tech Cv


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Writing A Winning Tech Cv

  1. 1. WRITING A WINNING TECH CV Your guide to how to win more interviews and enhance your career by creating a quality CV Writing a Winning Tech CV – © Idealpeople 2009
  2. 2. WHO’S THIS FOR? WHO IS THIS FOR? You’ll find loads of generic advice about writing CVs online. Whilst some of this information is great (and some of it not so great), you’ll find very little specific information about how to write a technology-focussed CV. So, people of the tech world: whether you’ve just graduated or whether you’ve worked in the technology space for a number of years, this guide is for you. THE CHALLENGE People working in technology often have a wide range of technical skill and broad experience working in a variety of environments. Knowing how to present the wealth of technical expertise to a potential employer or a recruiter is a significant challenge. This guide will help you construct a CV which will make sense of this information and showcase your skills and experience. Writing a Winning Tech CV – © Idealpeople 2009
  3. 3. WHO ARE WE? We are Idealpeople, and we’ve been looking at, talking about and dealing with CVs since 2001. We’re a recruitment company who work with leading tech companies, searching out and introducing them to the world’s top tech talent. We work with professionals We have offices in the UK and China from all areas of the tech (Beijing), and work extensively industry, including Software throughout Europe, so our knowledge Development, Test & QA, and experience is international. Professional Services and Consulting, Product We give out free advice to tech Management & Product professionals on a number of issues Marketing, Sales & Business relating to job-seeking, including Development, Technical interview techniques, personal branding, Architecture, HR and Senior social networking and CV authoring. Management. Come and take a look at a full range of articles, including recent developments We represent people at all from the world of tech recruitment, at levels, from recent graduates www.idealpeopleblog.com. to CEOs and everywhere inbetween. ABOUT US: http://www.idealpeople.net http://www.idealpeople.cn http://www.idealpeople.it Writing a Winning Tech CV – © Idealpeople 2009
  4. 4. THE BASICS: DEFINING YOU What is a CV? Beauty is in the eye of the Before we go any further, it’s very beholder important that you understand Before you dive in and start writing, take a what a CV is. moment to think about your audience: hiring managers, HR folk and recruiters. Whilst a CV certainly isn’t a life When these people open a CV, what do you history, the common perception think they are looking for? of a CV as a “marketing In our experience, they’re looking to answer document” – whilst having some some key questions, which include: truth to it- is unhelpful. A CV 1) Does this person have the skills I need? written purely to “sell” can lead 2) Has this person achieved what I need the author in the wrong direction. from them before? 3) What problems do I face in hiring this A CV is simply the opposite of a person? job description; rather than If your CV satisfies the reader on each of describing the job it describes a these points, then it will win you an person, that person’s skills and interview, and its job will be complete. the experience they’ve gleaned. So a CV isn’t a life history, nor is it a Some of it should be designed to marketing document: it’s a document appeal to the reader, but on the which answers your audience’s key whole its aim should be to create questions. an accurate and relevant description of your professional Tip 1: Always put your “self”. audience first Writing a Winning Tech CV – © Idealpeople 2009
  5. 5. GENERIC OR SPECIFIC? Brace yourself for a shock. Are you braced? Good. We think you should create, from scratch, a brand new CV for each individual job that you put yourself in the frame for. Our first tip was to put your audience first, and you can’t do this if you’re using the same CV for every job you look at. A truly great CV answers those questions on the last page for each and every job you apply for. A generic CV just won’t deliver on this. We accept that this might be a time-consuming process, so if you find it’s taking too long then a tailored or “fine-tuned” version of a more generic one will work – provided the changes you make allow your CV to match the job description closely. A PLACE FOR GENERIC CVs INFORMATION To do this well, you’re going to Before you tear yours up, there is a LOT of need a good deal of information value in having a generic CV. If, for upon which to base your tailored instance, you’re going to be using on-line CV. CV databases, or if you want to begin If you’re lucky, the advert might building relationships with recruiters, then have enough in it to help you – a generic CV is vital. otherwise you’ll need to qualify the vacancy with the agent or HR However, you must be willing to create new team before producing your CV. ones from scratch when you get some Either will be more than happy interest and build your generic one using to speak to you directly. the guidelines we suggest here. Tip 2: Be prepare to go further by creating a new CV from scratch each time. Writing a Winning Tech CV – © Idealpeople 2009
  6. 6. THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT FORMATTING You might be tempted when FORMATTING TIPS writing a CV to try and make it 1 FILE SIZE look really nice. Documents which include images can often Making your CV look good is a end up being huge. Many companies have great idea, provided that a nice file size restrictions on e-mail systems and/or format is combined with really databases so if you want to use images make great content. a clean, image-free version too. 2 FONTS However, when making your CV look great you need to remember Not everyone has that super-slick font you rule number 1: consider your wanted to use installed, which could make your design efforts redundant. For the audience first. avoidance of doubt, use the core system fonts (Arial, Times New Roman, Georgia, Verdana) to ensure that what you see is the same as the WHAT HAPPENS TO recipient, or PDF your document. YOUR CV? 3 TABLES Avoid using tables at all costs. Different The vast majority of recruiters are software renders tables differently, and table now storing CVs electronically, which layouts are affected by differing standard throws up a set of issues that you templates. Many databases don’t like or can’t need to be aware of. read from tables, so they can seriously mess up your formatting. Use tabs to separate data For instance, as tempting as it is to instead. use every available piece of modern 4 HEADERS AND FOOTERS technology to craft a beautiful- looking document, you’ll be wasting Many people use headers and footers to store information like addresses and contact your time if the recipient doesn’t numbers. Some systems can’t read have access to the same technology information from headers and footers, so you used in making it. avoid them altogether. Tip 3: Get the formatting right! Writing a Winning Tech CV – © Idealpeople 2009
  7. 7. WHAT TO PUT IN….AND WHAT TO LEAVE OUT We’ve come across loads of advice about what information your CV needs to have in it, all of it varying. The “nuts and bolts” of what to put in varies from person-to- person (depending on your experience), but there are some clear boundaries on what should be in your CV and what shouldn’t be. INCLUDE LEAVE OUT 1 YOUR NAME AND CONTACT 1 HOBBIES AND PERSONAL DETAILS INTERESTS Because some people do forget. Unless they are relevant to the role: if your interests include web design and 2 YOUR ACADEMIC PROFILE development and you’re a web designer, You can put this where you like (if you’re a then great – but non-work-related hobbies recent graduate then you’ll want to play it should be left out. up; otherwise you can put it lower down), but leaving it out leads to assumptions of it 2 PRIVATE DATA not existing…. We’ve seen all sorts, but please don’t include anything like your National 3 YOUR PROFESSIONAL HISTORY Insurance number or passport number. We’ll talk more about this on the upcoming 3 D.O.B pages – but the type of role and depth of Although you won’t be penalised for it, your experience will dictate how much of there’s no need to include your date of your experience you discuss in depth. You birth. only need to go into detail about positions you’ve held which are relevant to the 4 HUMOUR position you are applying for. Because other people might not think you’re as funny as you are. 4 YOUR PROFILE Be sure to include a short opening 5 PHOTOS paragraph detailing your current situation, The jury is out on this one – and lots of your primary skillset and the type of people will disagree, but the bottom line is position you seek. And make sure this that a photo doesn’t enhance your matches the position you are applying for! application – so leave it out. Tip 4: Include only the right information Writing a Winning Tech CV – © Idealpeople 2009
  8. 8. PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE - LANGUAGE, ACHIEVEMENTS & BENEFITS USE THE JOB DESCRIPTION Writing about your professional experience is the toughest and most important part of your CV. It’s at this point that it becomes important to base the information you are giving in your CV around the job description or advert in front of you. ACHIEVEMENTS Writing about achievements is far more powerful than writing about responsibilities, so replace descriptions of what you did with descriptions of what you achieved. For instance, look at the following example: - I was in charge of the corporate - I held responsibility for the corporate website, and was the driver behind a total design overhaul of the 3000 website - I managed a team of 15 pages it contained. The outcome of this was a five-fold developers increase in visitor traffic and improved user feedback. This extra traffic led to a £500K increase in online sales. - Implemented a new CRM system - Implemented new performance initiatives and management style, reducing staff attrition from 60% to REPLACE THIS 6%. WITH THIS - Identified and Implemented a new CRM system, resulting in an increase in a 35% increase in conversions. It’s really important to be specific with your language and to try BENEFITS and use numbers as much as Try to describe your achievements by explaining possible. Overly-flowery the benefits that you’re work has had on your language with tonnes of employers. adjectives and no numbers loses Did your work on a particular project lead to a lot of power. Note how our increased efficiency or improved performance? good example uses numbers to describe achievements rather Tell us about it! than subjective language. Tip 5: Replace your features with achievements and benefits! Writing a Winning Tech CV – © Idealpeople 2009
  9. 9. HOW TO DEAL WITH TECHNICAL SKILLS Dealing with Technical Skills on your CV can be a challenge. We know that you probably have a wide range of technical skills, and that every job that you apply for demands a different sub-set of those skills. It can be tempting to write a list of all of your technical skills in a generic CV. We’ve already told you our view on Generic CVs, and in the case of technical skills this advice holds particularly true. Tech workseekers are fairly unique in the employment world because they often have a multitude of skills which don’t necessarily fit together in an obvious manner. For instance, they could be brilliant at designing and building websites using PHP and MySQL; they could be equally brilliant at designing web applications using J2EE and Combine this set of circumstances just as good at building iPhone applications. with a generic CV and what you often get is an ugly mess; a bodged Yet each job they apply for is unlikely to document which sort-of-serves-its- demand such a breadth of skills – instead, purpose-but-really-doesn’t. Those most jobs are marketed as requiring a depth who have unwittingly fallen into the of skill in one particular area. The job-seeker trap may find themselves unable to mentioned in the last paragraph could apply grab the attention of the hiring for a PHP coding position, or an iPhone manager, HR department or the recruiter, or they may find themselves development role, or a J2EE development constantly having to explain their project, but is unlikely to be busy applying experience with particular skills. They for a position which demands all three may find themselves frustrated at a skillsets. “lack of understanding” of their CV, or become mystified at a lack of real progress. Writing a Winning Tech CV – © Idealpeople 2009
  10. 10. HOW TO DEAL WITH TECHNICAL SKILLS A bodged, “one-size-fits all”, Tell us not just what you did, tell generic technical CV will often us what you’ve done include long lists of technical When it comes to technical skills, skills. this is really important: you need to do more than just mention the Not only are these seem a little skill(s) in question. You need to tell unbelievable, but they’re us what you’ve done with those pretty un-useful too: and it’s skills. PHP superstar? Tell us about probably why you find – in the sites/apps you’ve made in PHP between the long silences – in your current/previous role(s). that you keep having to Where are they? What do they do? explain yourself. Which modules did you write? An ineffective CV leaves the Do the same for the job roles you’ve reader with questions that held. Software Tester? What have need to be answered, an you tested? How did you test it? effective tailored or entirely What tools did you use? fresh one leaves no doubt as to Tell us about what you’ve achieved, your suitability. Yes, it’s going what you’ve done and not just to take longer, but give it a go what you do. and see how effective it is. Tip 6: Tell us what you’ve done with your technical skills, don’t just tell us what they are Writing a Winning Tech CV – © Idealpeople 2009
  11. 11. RE-CAP Create your winning tech CV by following our 7 simple rules… Tip 1: Always put your audience first Consider the reader’s key questions: - Does this person have the skills I need? - Has this person achieved what I need from them before? - What problems do I face in hiring this person? Tip 2: Be prepare to go further by creating a new CV from scratch each time Or at least tailor it to match the job description/advert closely. Tip 3: Get the formatting right! Leave out tables, keep information out of headers and footers and use sensible, widely available fonts. Use graphics sparingly and be aware of file format issues. Tip 4: Include only the right information That means no hobbies, private info or photos! Tip 5: Replace your features with achievements and benefits! Use clear and accurate language to tell us what you’ve done, not just what you did. Tip 6: Tell us what you’ve done with your technical skills, don’t just tell us what they are Be precise and clear about what you’ve done with the technical skills you have that are relevant to the job you are applying for. Writing a Winning Tech CV – © Idealpeople 2009